News You Can Use At Watoga State Park — The Activity Center

The brown sided wood building at 2,100 square feet is atop a hill not far from the swimming pool. This is a photo in the early fall of 2020.
With more than 2,100 square feet available, the former Rec Hall building (now the Activity Center) hosts a variety of events. Photo by John Dean.

This edition of “Watoga State Park News You Can Use” showcases the building formerly known as the Rec Hall. It is now the Activity Center. And yes, it’s still usable in many different ways — just not the same as in decades gone by.

Just a short walk from the park’s swimming pool is the former Rec Hall building. It has undergone a major transformation to a multipurpose building in the last few years. We’ll provide details on that in a moment.

But first let’s take a quick look back in time at a few details. The rec hall is nestled against a wooded backdrop where for 50-plus years you had a variety of indoor entertainment options. Those included ping pong, billiards, pinball machines, a juke box, to mention a few.

Built in the mid-1960s, the building served as a home base for the park’s naturalist as well as options for park guests on a rainy day. A floor plan from 1964 shows the recreation hall is approximately 2,100 square feet.

Just What Has Changed?

But now, the brown-sided structure plays host to a variety of events, ranging from weddings/receptions to family and class reunions, company meetings, and even school dances.

What changes were made to convert the former Rec Hall to a multiuse building? Here’s some news about improvements to that building.

New pine cabinets accents a newly installed kitchen at the park's Activity Center.
A new kitchen was added to the multipurpose building to accommodate guests hosting their event. Photo by Watoga State Park.

Of importance to groups now renting the Activity Center is the addition of a household style kitchen with wood cabinets blending in with pine paneling.

“We added a new drop ceiling throughout,” says Jody Spencer, park superintendent. “New flooring, lighting, and a heat pump were installed too.”

“The old chimney leaked really bad due to old crumbling stones and cement joists falling apart, Spencer says. “That was the reason for the terrible floor. So, we removed the chimney, and installed gas logs in the fireplace.”

Recently, all new tables and chairs were purchased. The building features public Wi-Fi.

Spencer explains that depending on the set-up for an event inside, 75-100 people can enjoy the facilities with almost unlimited space outside.

News You Can Use — Reservation Details

The Activity Center is available for rent in the spring, summer, and fall. Prices are $175 per day for all reunions and parties (for example, birthdays, baby showers, or anniversaries) and $250/day for wedding/wedding receptions. All park rules must be followed, including limits on excessive noise. Events must end no later than 10 p.m.

This photo shows some of the improvements that is making news at Watoga State Park. New lighting and new floors highlight those changes. Photo by Watoga State Park
Welcome news for those planning a wedding and/or a reception. The former Rec Hall building can now be the site of your special occasion. Photo by Watoga State Park.

Peak demand occurs in the summer when the building is rented most weekends. But it’s not too late to book your special occasion. You may contact the park office at 304-799-4087 for reservations. At this time, online bookings are not available.

While the area surrounding the Activity Center is about three acres or so, visitors and guests can still enjoy the other 10,100-plus acres in the park. With 40 miles of trails, an 11-acre stocked lake, three campgrounds, and much more, Watoga offers something for everyone.

For weddings or reunions where guests have to travel from a distance, the park offers cabin and camping-type lodging for folks to gather nearby,” Spencer notes.

Stay tuned for the next installment of “Watoga State Park News You Can Use.”

About the Author

John C. Dean is a writer and editor. He grew up in the park in the 1960s and 1970s when the Rec Hall was first built.

Watoga State Park Photos Capture a Winter Paradise

A buck and a doe glance through the forest at the photographer as if they are posing for the winter snapshot near a stream with snow all around. Photo by Stanley Clark©.
Out for a stroll on a winter day? Photo by Stanley Clark©.

Since spring is about to arrive, we say goodbye to winter at Watoga State Park with these photos. In fact, even the cold and snow could not keep photographers from capturing magical scenes at this winter wonderland.

Special thanks to photographers Angela Hill, Stanley Clark, and Ann Groves for their unique perspective of Watoga State Park.

If you would like to submit photos for our next blog, please email for more information.

Eastern teaberries (Gaultheria procumbens) along the north branch of Buckhorn Trail. The bright red seems even brighter against the backdrop of snow. Photo by Angela Hill©.
Eastern teaberries (Gaultheria procumbens) along the north branch of Buckhorn Trail. The bright red seems even brighter against the backdrop of snow. Photo by Angela Hill©.
The photographer loved how this park bench near the Brooks Memorial Arboretum seemed to be inviting her to take a seat and enjoy the snowy view. Snow lines both sides of the stream as rhododendrom are on a hill across from the creek.Photo by Angela Hill©.
The photographer loves how this park bench near the Brooks Memorial Arboretum seems to be inviting her to take a seat and enjoy the snowy view. Photo by Angela Hill©.
The Brooks Memorial Arboretum leading to trails at Watoga is encased in snow. No footprints can be seen in the snow in this winter scene. Photo by Stanley Clark©.
The Brooks Memorial Arboretum leading to trails at Watoga is encased in snow. Photo by Stanley Clark©.
Cabin 1 draped in a layer of snow. Built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps, Cabin 1 is across from the Greenbrier River. Photo by Stanley Clark©.
Cabin 1 draped in a layer of snow. Built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps, Cabin 1 is across from the Greenbrier River. Photo by Stanley Clark©.
An otter along the banks of the Greenbrier River near Watoga State Park. Note the natural color of the river in this winter scene. The water is of a rich blue hue with the otter at the end of the river on a snow-packed surface.Photo by Stanley Clark©.
An otter along the banks of the Greenbrier River near Watoga State Park. Note the natural color of the river in this winter scene. Photo by Stanley Clark©.

Winter Photos on the Rocks

A rock outcrop taken along the northwestern branch of the Honeybee Trail shows snow lying in various places of the cragged rock formation.. The photographer snapped this pic from the Dragon Draft Trail and noted how far away this group of rocks seemed to be. Photo by Angela Hill©.
A rock outcrop taken along the northwestern branch of the Honeybee Trail. The photographer snapped this pic from the Dragon Draft Trail and noted how far away this group of rocks seemed to be. Photo by Angela Hill©.
Even though it is an open shelter at the intersection of Buckhorn and Dragon Draft trails, it does provide some relief from the blowing flurries and cold winter air. Photo by Angela Hill©.
Even though it is an open shelter at the intersection of Buckhorn and Dragon Draft trails, it does provide some relief from the blowing flurries and cold winter air. Photo by Angela Hill©.
Photo captures an icy scene along the stream on Dragon Draft Trail on a chilly day at Watoga State Park. Photo by Angela Hill©.
A Watoga State Park photo moment: an icy scene along the stream on Dragon Draft Trail on a chilly day at Watoga State Park. Photo by Angela Hill©.
The morning sunshine peeks across the frozen Watoga Lake. Ice anglers cast a line or two to try to catch a fish on this frigid winter day. Ice fishing enthusiasts enjoy a winter day at 11-acre Watoga Lake. Photo by Stanley Clark©
Ice fishing enthusiasts enjoy a winter day at 11-acre Watoga Lake. Photo by Stanley Clark©
A curvy mountain road along Island Creek depicts rocks covered with stone. The retaining wall was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the early 1930s. Photographer Angela Hill© commented on this scene that "it just seemed like a magical place."
Watoga State Park road along Island Creek depicts rocks covered with stone. The retaining wall was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the early 1930s. Photographer Angela Hill© commented on this scene that “it just seemed like a magical place.”
At a picnic table at Watoga, more than 18" of snow pile atop the table. When it snows at Watoga, scenes like this one are common. Photo by Stanley Clark©.
When it snows at Watoga, scenes like this one are common. Photo by Stanley Clark©.
Watoga State Park photos include a snowy drive to work along Island Creek Road for the morning drive of park employee, Ann Groves. Photo courtesy of Ann Groves, Facebook.
Watoga State Park Road as depicted on the morning drive of park employee, Ann Groves. Photo courtesy of Ann Groves, Facebook.
Watoga State Park photos depict a deer in a snowy scene amongst a backdrop of freshly fallen snow. Photo by Stanley Clark©.
At Watoga, even the wildlife seem to pose for photographers. Photo by Stanley Clark©.